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Turkey Focus on Minorities. History of Middle East.

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Presentation on theme: "Turkey Focus on Minorities. History of Middle East."— Presentation transcript:

1 Turkey Focus on Minorities

2 History of Middle East

3 Heritage from Ottoman Empire In a holdover from the Ottoman system of millets, Turks traditionally have tended to consider all Sunni Muslims as Turks and to regard non-Sunni speakers of Turkish as non-Turks.

4 After Ottoman Empire and New Republic Since the founding of the Republic of Turkey, the government has sought to diminish the significance of ethnic, linguistic, and religious distinctions.

5 Turkey’s approach to minority rights remains unchanged. According to the Turkish authorities, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, minorities in Turkey consist exclusively of non-Muslim religious communities. The minorities associated in practice by the authorities with the Treaty of Lausanne are Jews, Armenian Christians and Greek Orthodox Christians. However, there are other communities in Turkey which, in the light of the relevant international and European standards, could qualify as minorities. (Euroean Commission, Turkey 2006 Progress Report) Turkey 2006 Progress Report

6 General View Extensive ethnic and religious diversity. The two largest minority groups: –Alevis (a religious minority) and –Kurds (some of who are Alevis) About 47 different ethnic groups. 1923 Treaty of Lausanne Citizens ‘of Turkey’ (in Turkish Turkiyeli – of Turkey) or Turks.


8 Alevis are minorities because… Different outwardly from Sunni Muslims –They do not fast in Ramadan, but do during the Ten Days of Muharram (the Shi’I commemoration of Imam Husayn’s martyrdom). –They do not prostrate themselves during prayer. –They do not have mosques. –They do not have obligatory formal almsgiving, although they have a strong principle of mutual assistance.

9 Alevis An estimated 7-million Alevis, Aspects of both Shi’a and Sunni Islam and the traditions of other religions found in Anatolia as well. Men and women worshipping together through oratory, poetry, and dance in Cem houses which has not legal status. Alevism as a heterodox Muslim sect by Gov. Some Alevis and radical Sunnis maintain Alevis are not Muslims.

10 Alevis

11 Problems of Alevis Permission to build a Cem house. The Diyanet issued a letter to authorities stating that Cem houses violate Islamic principles and Turkish law. Alevi doctrines or beliefs in religious instruction classes in public schools. No allocation specific funds for Alevi activities or religious leadership by the Diyanet.

12 Demands of Alevis Inclusion of the Alevi faith in school textbooks. Financial support from the government for the construction of Alevi places of worship. The allocation of funds for the community from the state budget…

13 Kurds The largest ethnic minority in Turkey (15 million). South-eastern and eastern Turkey, although a large number have migrated to cities in western Turkey. About half of all Kurds worldwide live in Turkey. Most of the rest live in adjacent regions of Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Turkey's censuses do not list Kurds as a separate ethnic group. No legal barriers to ethnic Kurds’ participation in political and economic affairs but…

14 The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the best known and most radical of the Kurdish movements, launched a guerilla campaign in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in the predominantly Kurdish southeast. Thousands died and hundreds of thousands became refugees in the conflict between the PKK and the army in the 1980s and 1990s.

15 Kurdish people


17 Kurds (language) Pose a threat to Turkish national unity. An active Kurdish separatist movement in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Language suppression. In Turkey, two major Kurdish dialects are spoken: Kermanji, and Zaza

18 Kurdish Language Prohibition of use of Kurdish in all government institutions, including the courts and schools. During the 1960s and again in the mid-1970s, Kurdish intellectuals attempted to start Kurdish-language journals and newspapers. None of these publications survived for more than a few issues Broadcasting (both radio and TV) in non-Turkish languages, including Kurdish dialects, began on 7 June 2004 on the state-owned national broadcaster TRT. Private language courses in Kurdish opened across Turkey in 2004, including in Van, Batman and Sanliurfa. Illegal to carry out political campaigning in any language other than Turkish.

19 Problems of Kurds Government has tried to destroy their Kurdish identity and that they suffer economic disadvantage and human rights violations. Thousands died and hundreds of thousands became refugees in the conflict between the PKK and the army in the 1980s and 1990s.

20 Armenians Most Armenians living in Turkey are concentrated in and around Istanbul. The Armenians support their own newspapers and schools. Two daily newspapers in Armenian language and one weekly newspaper in Turkish.

21 Greeks There are fewer than 2,500 Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey. The World Directory of Minorities (1997) states that “There are probably 3,000 ageing Greek Christians, mainly in Istanbul, the residue of 80,000 still there in 1963. Formal expulsions police harassment and a climate of fear and popular animosity have since then reduced the community to its present number.”

22 Jews The Jewish minority is neither ethnically nor linguistically homogeneous. Most of its members are Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain by the Roman Catholic Inquisition in 1492. They speak Ladino, a variant of fifteenth-century Spanish with borrowings from several other languages. Specail attention not to have problem with the state. Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, an estimated 30,000 Jews immigrated to the new state. By 1965 the Jewish minority had been reduced to an estimated 44,000, most of whom lived in Istanbul, where many Jewish men operated shops and other small businesses. A weekly newspaper called Shalom in Hebrew.

23 Arabs In 1995 Turkey's ethnic Arab population was estimated at 800,000 to 1 million. The Arabs are heavily concentrated along the Syrian border, especially in Hatay Province, which France, having at that time had mandatory power in Syria, ceded to Turkey in 1939. Arabs then constituted about two-thirds of the population of Hatay (known to the Arabs as Alexandretta), and the province has remained predominantly Arab.

24 People from the Caucasus Three small but distinct ethnic groups (aside from the more numerous Armenians) have their origins in the Caucasus Mountains: –The Circassians –The Georgians (including the Abkhaz) –The Laz. Approximately

25 International Conventions Turkey has not signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities or the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

26 Turkey’s policy There is no policy except “We DON’T recognize…” “We DON’T do…” “We DON’T practise…”

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